What do councillors do?
Councillors represent the people of Powys and are democratically accountable to residents in their ward. Their overriding duty is to the whole community of Powys, but they have a special duty to their constituents, including those who did not vote for them.
You can contact your councillor to help you if you have a local issue that you want to discuss with them, or if you're unhappy with a council service.
Councillors work together to make decisions which affect everybody who lives, works or visits Powys. They have overall responsibility for the work the council does - for its policies and how well it performs. This is an important role - they are the voice of the community and play a vital role making democracy work.
Councillors should represent the whole community, but they have a special responsibility to champion the needs of the people who live in their wards. Councillors have a duty to know what is going on in their area, and to help with any problems or questions that a constituent may have. For example this could mean helping to solve a housing problem or arranging for a new road sign.
Councillors are community leaders and work with many local bodies, e.g., health boards, police authorities and schools. This helps them develop a deeper understanding and knowledge of the organisations that serve their communities.
Above all councillors should listen to the needs of local people and take their views into account when making decisions.
Generally, County Councillors serve for four years, unless they are elected at a by-election in which case they serve until the next scheduled council elections. Of course, they can resign or be disqualified from office before the end of their term.
Do councillors get paid?
Each councillor gets a basic allowance, paid in monthly instalments. The allowance recognises the time they spend on their work, including making phone calls and going to meetings, and contributes to incidental costs like the use of their home and phone. Councillors may also claim travel expenses and, in some cases, subsistence for their attendance at approved events.
If councillors take on particular duties, they may also receive a special responsibility allowance.
For more information on councillors' allowances, see Members Allowances and Expenses
Can I contact my councillor at home and on weekends?
Yes. When someone becomes a councillor it is on the understanding that they are accessible to the public all week and can be contacted at home as well as in the council offices.
What ethical standards can I expect of my councillor?
When councillors are elected, they agree to follow a code of conduct (this link will take you to the Constitution. Please look at "Section 18 - Members Code of Conduct" in the latest version of the Constitution) This describes the high standards they should meet as they work as councillors.
How is the chairman elected?
The chairman of the council is elected at the Annual General Meeting of Council which takes place in May. The chairman serves for a year. For more information, or to get in touch with the current chairman, contact the Chairman's PA/Secretary using the contact details on this page.
How much work do councillors do?
Each councillor will need to decide how much time they're willing to give. How busy they are also depends on their role in the council and the duties that they take on. Councillors need to spend time to dealing with queries from their constituents, and are likely to receive a lot of mail, e-mail, telephone calls and personal visits. Constituents contact their councillors at all times of the day - not always at a reasonable hour!
Councillors are expected to attend all formal council meetings and committees of which they are a member. Some weeks there may be more scheduled meetings than others. If you are an elected chairperson or cabinet member the role can be very demanding as the responsibilities are greater. Many councillors also represent the council on outside organisations and at conferences and may have to travel to these meetings.
For most meetings, councillors will need to read detailed papers and background information. Councillors are also invited to attend at numerous seminars and training events.
What support do councillors get?
Council officers are employed to carry out the decisions the councillors make and help councillors by offering advice and guidance on any issue. In most cases it will be the senior officers e.g. the chief executive, directors and heads of service who are the first port of call.
The member services unit provides administrative support and acts as a liaison between councillors, officers and members of the public.
Councillors can also use a work area in the council offices which has facilities such as computers, printers, telephones and stationery.
How do I become a councillor?
To become a councillor you need to stand for election and win. To be a candidate, you must be:
- At least 18 years old
- A British citizen, or a citizen of another Commonwealth country, the Republic of Ireland or another member state of the European Union.
One of the following must apply to you for 12 months before the day you are nominated and on polling day:
- You are registered as a local government elector in Powys
- You own or are the tenant of any land or premises in Powys
- Your main or only place of work is in Powys
You may not stand as a councillor if you:
- Are employed by the local authority, hold a paid office (including joint committees) or hold a political restricted post with another council
- Are bankrupt
- Have been sentenced to prison for three months or more (including a Suspended sentence) during the five years before election day
- Have been disqualified under Part III of the Representation of the People Act 1983 or under the Audit Commission Act 1998
- Are currently disqualified from being a councillor by the Adjudication Panel for Wales.
Getting officially nominated
Whether you've been selected by a party or are standing as an independent candidate, you must make sure that you are officially nominated as the election date draws nearer. This means getting 10 people to sign your nomination papers (signatories must be registered electors in the ward where you wish to stand) available from your local council's democratic services department.
You must also give your consent in writing to your nomination. All the necessary documents must be submitted 19 working days before the day of the election.
There is additional support available to you if you're disabled and considering standing for elected office.
Are all councillors members of a political party?
No, many Councillors stand as independents, although currently all but one belong to one of the four political groups which have been declared in Powys.